Quiet Radicals: Simon Butler

What is a Quiet Radical?

Every single day, there are people all across the globe who inspire and motivate, initiating change through acts, whether big or small, to make the world a better place. Leading by example and going against the status quo by simply asking, “Why not?” With those words, a path of change is created.

These are who we, at Five Dot Botanics, call Quiet Radicals; they need not be loud or even be seen at the forefront to make changes around them, they just need to do, and that is the push required to start radical change.

Who is Simon Butler?

“I believe art has the power to change the world” - Simon Butler

For Simon Butler, change occurred in Northern France when he visited the Calais Jungle, the refugee and migrant encampment for the first time. Seeing all those displaced people and having worked in contemporary art for seven years, Simon asked himself, “Why not help with my talent?” Seeing the demolishing process cemented this. His worldview was changed completely when he saw all this firsthand, it was all he needed to initiate change.


What has he done?

“I set up Migrate Art as a social enterprise to raise money [for] displaced people through contemporary art.” - Simon Butler 

After his visit, Simon decided to make his realisations into reality, having various contacts in the art sphere and his vast knowledge, his plan was to use his skills to help the most vulnerable in our societies. Combining his love of art and charity, 2016 saw the birth of Migrate Art, an organisation whose main cause is to help those affected by the global migration crisis.

When the organisation first began, the initial fundraising goal was set at £50,000 and with the help of artists like the sculptor Antony Gormley, the goal was reached in a matter of months. This has, of course, increased, and Migrate Art has now raised over £650,000 to help displaced and homeless people across the globe.


What has Migrate Art achieved?

“Migrate Art is definitely my greatest achievement.” - Simon Butler

With current creative projects being #masksformeals, which has art on reusable face masks to help feed the homeless in the UK, and their sold-out Editions project, Migrate Art seeks to change the world, one brushstroke at a time.

They have supported various charities such as RefuAid, Refugee Community Kitchen and The Lotus Flower, with 90% of their profits going to their charities while the remaining 10% is used to fund their future projects. Migrate Art has worked with several influential artists such as Anish Kapoor and Raqid Shaw, with their work being featured in Times, Evening Standard and Dazed. Simon’s message with Migrate Art is always at the forefront: Changing the world through art.


What does the future hold?

“Be persistent, be consistent, be resistant.” - Simon Butler

The future holds endless possibilities for Migrate Art and judging from their present glow, the future is certainly bright.

Persistence, consistency and resistance, these are what Simon holds dear and what has pulled him through with Migrate Art, for change cannot be made if one is not determined to follow through all the way, no matter the hurdles.  

After projects like Scorched Earth and Raising for Myanmar, we cannot wait to see what new creative projects Migrate Art brings forward.

Simon Butler saw that change was required and decided that he would use what he had to initiate it, like every quiet radical, a question appears and like every quiet radical, an answer is not far behind.

Learn more about Migrate Art and Simon’s work here: https://migrateart.com/ 

September 21, 2021 — Kwabena Gyane